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Posts Categorized: Building Brands

Marketing through idioms.

Listen. The voice is power

Idioms express wisdoms that have been acquired throughout history. Born of consistent human behavior, they pack so much valuable insight about life and living into such a small package.

They can help us put neighborly jealousy in check – The grass is always greener on the other side. They can remind us to prioritize our schedules – Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Or even encourage us to ask for help when we need it – Two heads are better than one. (more…)

How to tell a nonprofit brand story with impact.

We’re honored to share with you how one of our clients impacts a world of change each and every day. WomenOnCall is a nonprofit organization with a mission to connect nonprofits with skills-based, professional women volunteers. And through these empowered connections, WomenOnCall makes skills-based volunteering more efficient and effective via on-site — and virtual — projects that require 10 hours of service or less. (more…)

¿Son satisfactorias tus actuales relaciones?

Right Partner — Wedding

Es incómodo, lo sabemos; pero es imprescindible hacer un análisis anual del estado de tu empresa y tus relaciones profesionales. Cuando se hace bien —con una mentalidad abierta y con disposición a asumir errores— puede ser difícil y resultar doloroso. Aunque es necesario si quieres mejorar y avanzar.

Incluso si 2015 ha sido tu mejor año hasta la fecha, hay cosas que necesitas considerar: ¿Qué ha ido bien? ¿Qué no lo ha hecho? ¿Tenías los objetivos adecuados definidos, para empezar? ¿Qué hay de tu cultura empresarial y tus capacidades? ¿Son lo que necesitas para avanzar con éxito en el 2016?

Éstas son sólo algunas de las preguntas que deberías hacerte, y tu empresa de marketing debería estar haciéndoselas también, para ayudar a tu negocio e intentar mejorar el servicio que te prestan. Si no lo está haciendo, quizá sea hora de que te hagas la pregunta más importante de todas: ¿Son tus relaciones de marketing las más adecuadas o satisfactorias?

¿Qué necesitas para que una relación sea satisfactoria?

Lo más probable es que tengas tu propia lista de características del colaborador de marketing ideal. Exactamente como muchos de nuestros clientes. Desde el B2C al B2B —desde tecnología a educación pasando por salud y bienes de consumo— hemos comprobado que aunque las estrategias verticales y líneas de negocio son bastante diferentes, muchos de nuestros clientes comparten algunos de los mismos requisitos. Sin embargo otros criterios de selección son únicos.

Éstos son algunos imprescindibles:

  • Experiencia —e inteligencia y habilidad— para resolver cualquier reto.
  • Evangelistas del comportamiento de los consumidores que sean una extensión integrada de tu servicio al cliente e impacten directamente tu ratio de conversión.
  • Estrategas que inspiren creatividad de forma natural.
  • Expertos en constante escucha activa que verdaderamente oigan, entiendan y actúen en consecuencia.
  • Un proceso consistentemente colaborativo, fácil y productivo.
  • Habilidad para transformar los datos en acciones viables.
  • Un colaborador proactivo que constantemente identifique lapsus y busque oportunidades y soluciones.
  • Flexibilidad para proporcionar una cultura de rápida respuesta centrada en el cliente.
  • Un radar de relevancia que filtre las tendencias e innovaciones que realmente encajen con tu empresa.
  • Agilidad para acelerar o desacelerar en cualquier punto dentro del campo de 360°.
  • Contactos sólidos y relevantes más allá del marketing y la publicidad —desde importadores a inversores de capital de riesgo—.
  • Capacidad para identificar nuevas fuentes de ingresos en cualquier sector.
  • Un coste adecuado sin gastos superfluos —tanto en proyectos individuales como en retainers—.

¿Cuántos de éstos están en tu lista?… Si tus actuales relaciones de marketing o apoyo en exportaciones a los EE. UU. y Latinoamérica no son satisfactorias, ponte en contacto con nosotros en el 312 214 6340 (EE. UU.) o en el 91 454 7007 (España); o visita nuestra página de Internet Deja que te conozcamos para mostrarte cómo te podemos ayudar a mejorar y avanzar en 2016.

Is your current partner a keeper?

Right Partner_

It’s uncomfortable. We know it. That year-end review of your business and relationships. When done right — with an open and willing-to-own-all-the-warts mindset — it can be brutal, but it has to be done if you want to enhance and advance.

Even if 2015 was your best year ever, there are things you need to ponder: What went right? What didn’t? Did you have the right goals in place in the first place? What about your culture and capabilities? Are they what you need to move forward successfully in 2016?

These are just some of the questions that you should be asking … and your marketing partner should be asking them too, on your behalf, and about the way they service your business. If they are not, it may be time for you to ask the most important question of all: Do you have the right marketing partner in place?

What do you require in a partner?

You most likely have your own checklist for the ideal marketing partner for you. Just like many of our clients. From B2C to B2B — from Tech to Education to Healthcare to Consumables — we have found that while the verticals are quite different, many of our clients share some of the same requirements. Yet other selection criteria are unique.

Here are some must-haves:

  • Expertise — and intellect — to solve for all challenges.
  • Behavior path evangelists who can be an integrated extension of your customer service and directly impact conversion rates.
  • Strategists who can naturally inspire creativity.
  • Active listeners who truly hear, understand and execute accordingly.
  • A consistently collaborative, painless and valuable process/experience.
  • A proactive partner who constantly identifies gaps and searches for solutions.
  • The ability to make data actionable.
  • The flexibility to deliver a responsive, on-demand client-centered culture.
  • A relevance radar that filters which innovative trends are actually right for your Brand.
  • The agility to ramp up — or scale back — anywhere within the 360? landscape.
  • Established, leverageable relationships beyond marketing and advertising — everything from importers to VCs.
  • The capability to identify new sources of revenue — regardless of industry.
  • Right-sized cost with no “riders” to the fee — per-project or retainer.

How many of these are also on your list? If your current marketing partner doesn’t meet all of your requirements, give us a call at 312-214-6340. And let us learn about you so that we can share how we can help you enhance and advance in 2016.

3 Steps to Start Building your Foreign Brand’s Success in the U.S.


Congratulations, you’re bringing your product into the United States! In America, that’s like lunchtime on your first day at a new school. No one knows you. You know no one. Where are you going to sit?

But just getting to the cafeteria isn’t the goal. Even though you’re here, you must pursue active marketing of your product to build a powerful brand. And then what happens when you feel like you only have today’s lunch money to spend?

The key to building long-term success in your new marketplace is to ensure you’re making smart decisions from the beginning.

Consider these 3 steps to help you do just that:

1) Choose the right importer/distributor.

Creating a strong partnership with your importer/distributor up front is crucial to your product’s long-term success.

Asking a lot of questions can help you make the right choice. Look for one who has complimentary products in their portfolio instead of products in direct competition with yours. Also ask how long they have been with their current clients to discover if longevity is one of their strengths.

Once you’ve found an importer/distributor who is compatible, be prepared to enter into smart negotiations that will set up a strong partnership. Remember, it is much harder to ask for adjustments after the agreement has been made.

2) Have a complete understanding and control of your marketing spend.

Some foreign producers turn over their entire marketing budget to the importer/distributor. Many times the budget is utilized to help their entire portfolio and not utilized to specifically lift your individual product.

Just like spending all your money on desserts at lunchtime will not yield long-term health, an importer/distributor organizing tastings and events for a short-term boost in sales won’t create a sustainable ROI in the medium to long-term. It is vital to target your optimal end consumers in addition to the retailers to maximize your sales and revenue.

You must stay engaged to ensure the marketing dollars are being used to support your overall goals, both long and short term. Staying aware and involved also helps you discover what is working and what isn’t, so adjustments can be made to optimize the marketing effort and spending.

3) Find the budget to build your brand.

Importer/distributors can be great at business-to-business marketing in order to get your product on retailers’ shelves. But foreign producers must remember that if their products don’t ultimately sell to the consumer, then the retailer won’t become a repeat buyer.

If you are not able to build your brand and to make it wanted, desired and recognized by importers/distributors, retailers and ultimately consumers, you can be easily replaced by other brands next year.

Branding is necessary and requires an investment. But don’t get overwhelmed; you can make an impact even with a portion of your “lunch money”. Efforts such as a smart, strong website, targeted media, social media and shopper marketing can all boost your sales — provided every effort has the right strategy and execution to appropriately target each of your audiences.

These steps are just the beginning to getting your foreign product on solid ground in the U.S. Finding the right importer/distributor and staying engaged will keep you relevant in this new cafeteria. Combine that with a strong branding effort and you may soon find yourself head of your class.

Do you have an Actionable Brand? Part 2

Actionabe brand Phto 2

If you were with us for Part 1 of this series, the term actionable brand is no longer new to you. And hopefully the previous 3 questions have you thinking about where to take action. But if you missed it, let’s do a quick review.

What Is An Actionable Brand?

An actionable brand expands on a company’s mission-built branding. It creates measurable activities and situations that deliver that mission back into the lives of the prospects in a way that is relevant to them and incents a desire to engage.

Is Your Brand Actionable?

Here are the last three of six overarching principles to an actionable brand. Any no’s to these questions will clue you into where your brand can take more action.

  1. Can your brand utilize FOMO? (Fear Of Missing Out)

    The Fear of Mission Out is hardwired into all of us. Your brand can capitalize on this by highlighting the exclusivity of what you offer.

    Example: Many people didn’t even know what ALS was when the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge launched on Facebook. They most likely didn’t welcome the idea of pouring ice water over their heads either.

    But the 24-hour call to act, coming from friends or family, prompted people to get it done. No one wanted to miss out on the fun. ALS attributes 100 million dollars in donations to the effort.

  2. Does your audience see your brand in action?

    Actions speak so much louder than words. Actionable brands are ready and willing to do what they say and are ready and willing to say what they’ve done.

    Ensure your brand is telling your story through case studies, testimonials and/or belief points.

    Example: Have you met the watchmaker Shinola? They sell watches but its story is a major part of their brand. They make 100% American made watches and they show you exactly how and why they do it.

    Its actions to keep manufacturing in America speak just as loud as the quality of its products.

  3. Have you built your actionable brand on your brand’s heritage?

History adds brand richness to an actionable brand. It is proof of your brand’s authenticity and supports the brand’s commitment and ability to deliver on your brand promise. Actionable brands that leverage brand history strengthen their impact.

Example: Coca-Cola has been a part of America since 1892 and has always stayed true to the concept of sharing this beverage with a friend. Its active Share a Coke campaign takes that concept virtual.

Customers will spend time searching the Coke cooler for a name of someone they want to “share” their drink with. Then they will turn around and digitally share that over social media continuing with the history of brand.

Actionable branding is the most powerful initiative. Are you using it?

Do You Have An Actionable Brand? Part 1

Actionable brand Photo

Although the term might be new to you, its concept and power isn’t. With today’s technology and tools, brands and consumers can engage instantly. And now more than ever brands need to adapt to these engagement possibilities.

What is an Actionable Brand?

An actionable brand expands on a company’s mission-built branding. It creates measurable activities and situations that deliver that mission back into the lives of the prospects in a way that is relevant to them and incents a desire to engage.

Is Your Brand Actionable?

There are six overarching principles of an actionable brand. Let’s start with these three questions (three more coming in Part 2) and if you answer no to any of these, it may be time to take some action.

  1. Is your brand relevant to the attitudes and preferences of your core target?

    Does the target read your content, listen to your podcast or see your ad and say, “I was just thinking about that?” As they connect the dots to solve their problem your brand becomes a part of their solution.

    Example: The conversation was getting crowded when it came to Millennials and men’s body wash and Old Spice was being left out of the discussion. That discussion was for their fathers.

    Old Spice didn’t change its product, it evolved the way it spoke to Millennials with a relatable spokesman addressing how to smell like a man. They took it further with a social media response campaign and actively engaged the next generation of men.

  2. Has your brand made an authentic connection with your target?

    Authenticity builds trust and trust turns into action. Be real and your target will know it and will gravitate toward it.

    Example: Domino’s Pizza tore down all its walls in 2008 when they realized its pizza just wasn’t delivering. It brought its CEO to the forefront of its marketing and announced a complete turnaround that was going to include the opinion of their consumers. It admitted its faults and showed how it would move forward.

  3. Does your brand have emotional relevance to your audience?

You need to know your audience if you want your brand to tap into their emotional needs. What are their dreams and desires? What keeps them up at night? How can your brand fulfill those needs every time?

There are all sorts of emotions that can be associated with brands, excitement, loyalty, nostalgia. Does your target experience it when it engages with your brand? Actionable brands tap into the consumer with a deep emotional tie. And emotional ties lead to loyalty.

Example: Illness brings on vulnerability like nothing else. The Susan G. Komen foundation unites women and their families who have been touched by breast cancer. It addresses the hardship and loss these women face along with the strength and hope they illustrate. The pink ribbon campaign encompasses all those emotions and makes it easy to join the movement without even having to say a word.

Let those three questions and principles sink in a bit. Next week we’ll release three more questions in Part 2 to help get your brand in action.

The Name Game – Giving Birth to a Brand

Have you ever tried to give birth to a brand? Every aspect of it can feel like a pure adrenaline rush. Yet there are those aspects – often the most important aspects – that are, shall we say, not so much.

We have journeyed through the birthing-a-brand process with our clients many times from the next how-cool-is-that mobile devices to the newest concept in higher education to transformational organizations in the nonprofit space to even our own brand. And it is always the same.

There is passion and possibility in every step. Yet, when it comes to the all important naming of the new idea, it can be filled with frustration before the ultimate “ah-ha-that’s-it!” gratification.

There are many must-haves when naming a new brand:

  • Does it communicate the core essence of the product or service?
  • Is it instantly understood, is it memorable?
  • Is it free and clear in the business category?

That last one can be the biggest hurdle of all — Odds are it’s not. Someone, somewhere has probably claimed it before you. But that is how the true brand name diamonds are made … under the pressure of continued pursuit and exploration of hundreds of options, down many different paths, until you find the one.

That kind of pursuit takes fluidity and strength. But it can be done, and done well every time.